Liberia: June 7 Protesters Want President Weah Dissociate From ‘Criminal Confidants’
Gerald C. Koinyeneh -0880881540/0777769531/[email protected]
MONROVIA – The June 7 protest has come and gone but the echoes of the protesters’ voices are likely to resonate for a long time. The protest’s organizers, Council of Patriots (COP) outlined a comprehensive list of demands covering governance, human rights and the rule of law, national peace & reconciliation, integrity and accountability, among others.
FrontPage Africa spoke with some protesters who, among other things, called on President George M. Weah to part ways with some of his closed lieutenants they believe are not up to the task and may cause him more harm politically.
Marian Barrole, Student, United Methodist University
On why she joined the protest: “We feel downhearted. We feel dissatisfied. We feel that we are not being treated the right way. We voted Ambassador George Manneh Weah for change but we are not seen the change. We are seen the worst. So, we gather here today in our numbers to make him understand that we are suffering and he should do something about it.”
What she wants the government to tackle immediately: “Rape matters to me so much because as a female we are being abused by many people, especially male government officials and other cruel men. We feel that whenever girls are rape, the government cannot do anything, no investigation. The case of the students at the United Methodist School on the highway that was allegedly raped and killed and many other victims, most of them young girls and nothing can be done. So, I am holding my placard to say stop the rape. We are future leaders and they should stop destroying our future.”
Obadiah Coleman, civil servant and activist
Why he is protesting: “I have worked at the Capitol Building for three good years here now. Though I am employed and getting paid, I am not content because the majority of the people are suffering. And this is because the President has failed to be in charge. He has surrendered his leadership to so, so criminals he put around him.”
On His Demands: “I am asking the President to disassociate himself from people like Samuel Tweah (Minister of Finance and Development Planning), Nathaniel McGill (Minister of State for Presidential Affairs), Emmanuel Shaw (President’s Economic Advisor) and Jefferson Koijee (Monrovia City Mayor). The Liberian people are suffering Mr. President. We don’t mean to abuse you. Our presence here is to tell you that we are suffering. We elected you for change and the change is not coming. We are not here to tell you to come down. We are just mandating you [President Weah] and your government to listen to the people’s plight and address their problems. Establish a World and Economic Crimes Court.”
Emma D. Garway, High School Graduate
Reason for joining the protest: “I am part of this protest because I am tired. Things have gone out of hand and it seems that nothing the government is doing to address the issue. Like this placard that I am holding in my hand says, I want the government to bring back our missing money at the Central Bank. Despite all of the records and evidences that show that money is missing, the government said no money is missing. And we are here today to tell the government to stop mismanaging our money. And I will continue to be here. They say the government is broke and there is no money, but yesterday (the eve of the protest), we saw Samuel Tweah giving out huge sum of money: L$ 20,000, L$30,000, and L$40,000 to people for them to not attend the protest. I live 15th Street in Sinkor and this happened right in my presence. They said no money in this country but they are sharing our country’s money and enriching themselves.”
Ernest Korpuah, Civil Servant
Reason for protesting: “Our hearts are troubled and our minds are disturbed over the economic hardship in this country. Article one and Article 17 of our constitution gives us the right to assemble. That’s why we have come here today to erect a check point that the looting of our money must stop. The financial malpractices in this country must stop. [President] George Weah has to get the issues straight. There are people in this government that are corrupt. Look at the GAC report, the audit report that involves the US$25 million. In that report we understand the CBL said it gave money to 15 businesses but that report makes us to know that the 15 businesses do not exist.
On the high cost of living: “My brother, we are suffering. I am a civil servant. I work for the Liberian Government but it pains my heart when I take pay the money cannot buy any good thing for my family and I. This is a serious problem in our country. [President] George M. Weah must answer to the people. He must accept the petition of the people. The people are angry as I speak there are many of our citizens that have come from all over this country. They have come in the interest of the country. We have come with our petition and in our minds this petition must be received by high level government official and this petition must be received today. And until the petition can be received we will never leave the street.”
On why he is protesting when he is already employed by the government: “When you here a patriot, it is not just about yourself. I could leave this march and go sit down to my house and at the end of this month I will take pay. But it is because of the people. I have my parents, my brothers and sisters suffering. It is not because I am working.”
Major issues that the government should address: “The major things that the government needs to look at are the issue of our US$25 million used for the so-called mop-up exercise, the issue about our L$16 billion, issue about the high level of [exchange] rate in this country. The rate has gone up to L$200 [for US$1). US$5, now is L$1,000 and it cannot buy anything.”